After Nature comprises three long poems. Their subjects are, in order: the 16th-century painter Matthias Grunewald; the 18th-century botanist, zoologist, physician and explorer Georg Wilhelm Steller, and his place on the Bering expedition to farmost eastern Russia; and Sebald’s own early life.
To be honest, I would never have read this book, had it not been written by W.G. Sebald, one of my favourite authors, but I’m glad I eventually got round to it. The secret, to me at least, was to ignore the fact that the text is written as poetry, and simply to read it as ordinary, tightly written prose.
I struggled in places, especially with the Grunewald piece, but thoroughly enjoyed the other two. So much so that I ended up wanting to read more about Steller.
One for the Sebald fans.
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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